City of Brass

This is a guest post by Taha M Raja.

If you believe that the more thankful you are then you will receive more, then this Ramadan is a good time to fundamentally change the way we live.

The past 25 years, in the USA we have truly focused on the individual. My success, my money, my status in the economic and social structure. These excesses are a direct byproduct of a capitalistic society unfortunately.

Don’t get me wrong capitalism is essential and necessary for this country to operate. I would have it no other way. But to leave it unchecked and to completely absorb our systems in it without any counterbalance is synonymous to letting your animal instincts run wild without the human intellect and moral barriers.

This is precisely what has happened to us as a country in the past 25 years. We let our capitalistic instincts, which is ingrained in the DNA of this country, run wild. The rich got richer and the poor and economically disadvantaged were getting worse. Our health care, our economy, our morals and the very fundamentals of our society that governed our founding fathers went unchecked. The focus was on the all mighty dollar – more and more! No amount was enough! No time to be thankful and stop and ponder if any good was coming out of this endless greed. Toward the last five years, anything went for the million dollar bonuses, the bigger houses and the endless excess. Leveraged, over extended, no plan to exit – who cares, as long as I got mine!

This excess proved to be fatal like it always does. We were not thankful of what we got and instead reveled in the bounty only to be filled with greed to want more and more. We became shallow in our deep appreciation of the country, system and platforms that made all this possible. Our founding fathers would have been disgusted in seeing the endless scratching and clawing of the ascent of greedy money.

Being thankful and stopping every so often is a must. This Ramadan, I am making it a point to everyday stop and ponder at the endless bounties that I receive. Think about what can I do with the many resources I have been given which will better myself, my family, my friends, my neighbors and my country. A reflection of this kind on a daily basis provides the moral foundation to take a healthy next step everyday. It gives the timeout our capitalistic instincts needs to make good positive decisions. It forces moderation and hence fuels more bounties to be had because the decisions made are selfless not selfish.

As a nation I am urging my friends, family and fellow citizens this auspicious month of Ramadan to think about the endless bounties and search to see if we can find it in our hearts to find solutions to difficult problems like health care, war in Iraq and the economic disasters created by the endless greed. Can we dig deep and consider those that cannot have health care to say, yes we have gotten enough it is time to restructure and provide the umbrella that we all deserve? Can we look at Iraq and say, yes this was a genuine error and that it is time to listen to the voices of pain and provide solutions to the region than missiles. And finally, are we going to look around and consider the end to the endless consumerism that yielded in a complete financial disaster that may take our kids to pay off?

What can be wrong with being more thankful everyday and stopping every time to consider of others before you buy for yourself. Are we ready to ascend to the next stage of our social evolution of a society that claims endless greed to a society that looks outwards. A society that is willing to harness the power of capitalism and feed it back in betterment of each other?

I believe starting with a simple gesture where in the morning spend 5-10 minutes during Sehri (breakfast before sunrise) right before you start that meal, reflect and be thankful that you woke up today with all these bounties to see another day, healthy and full of life in a country like the USA. Be thankful for 10 minutes and then see if it changes your perspective the rest of the day and inshallah the rest of your life.

Taha Raja is an entrepreneur and small-business owner in Houston.

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